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While it should never be the case, we see it time and time again – big corporations think they can take advantage of their employees. 

Labor and employment law exists to protect everyday workers from companies who try to do this. There are also ways to obtain justice if your labor and employment rights are violated.

It’s crucial that all California workers educate themselves on their rights, so they know when they’re violated and can take action accordingly.

Let our San Diego-based team at Consumer and Employment Law Group walk you through some essential California labor and employment laws.

Preventing harassment and discrimination in the California workplace

The federal government has antidiscrimination laws in place across the country, and California is known for its even more comprehensive antidiscrimination laws. 

This type of labor and employment law exists to protect employees from harassment and discrimination based on protected characteristics.

Some protected characteristics include:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Age
  • National origin
  • Ancestry
  • Mental or physical disability
  • Sexual orientation

What is the difference between discrimination and harassment in California labor and employment law?

Anti-harassment and antidiscrimination laws exist together to protect workers, but they play two different roles.

When a supervisor discriminates against an employee, he or she is making and enacting decisions based on someone’s protected characteristics. This means that he or she might refrain from promoting someone, or even demote someone, based on a protected characteristic. The employee might also be treated unfairly when it comes to training, pay, discipline, termination, and other employment conditions.

Harassment does not entail workplace-related actions enacted by a supervisor. It may include physical or verbal threats, and it can be committed by a supervisor, co-worker, or even a non-employee. Victims could also include anyone affected by the conduct – not just the individual to whom the offensive conduct is directed.

Equal opportunities in California

There are other California labor and unemployment laws to protect special situations in the workplace.

Some equal opportunity laws include:

  • Pregnancy accommodation: Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations, such as modified duties or equipment, to employees due to pregnancy, childbirth, and other related medical conditions. 
  • Religious accommodation: Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations, such as modified duties or schedules, to employees due to religious beliefs and practices.
  • Disability accommodation: Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations, such as modified duties or equipment, for individuals with disabilities.
  • Whistleblower protections: Employers may not prevent workers from whistleblowing about workplace safety violations, nor may they retaliate against a whistleblower.

Other Workers’ Rights in California

There are even more labor and unemployment laws to protect workers’ rights in the state of California. In addition to preventing discrimination and harassment, and protecting other equal opportunities, there are laws for workplace conditions and safety.

Some other workplace conditions protected by labor and employment laws in California include:

  • Wages, including minimum wage, overtime, and off-the-clock work
  • Meal and rest breaks
  • Expense reimbursements
  • Accurate workplace classification

Wage protections

Regardless of immigration status, workers are entitled by law to receive adequate compensation for all work performed. If an employer violates laws related to minimum wage, overtime, or off-the-clock work, an employee may sue not only for the unpaid wages but for additional damages. These can include interest, reasonable attorney’s fees, statutory damages, liquidated damages, and/or civil penalties.

Meal and rest break protections

California law requires that employees receive proper meal and rest breaks, during which they are relieved from all work-related duties. During meal breaks, they are also free to leave the work premises.

Employees are entitled to 30-minute unpaid meal breaks if they work more than five hours, as well as an additional one for a 10-hour workday.

They are also entitled to a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked. Rest breaks are paid at the employee’s regular rate of play.

Reimbursement protections

Businesses often try to pass operating expenses onto their employees, but employees must be reimbursed for all necessary expenses and losses incurred during their duties.

These may include:

  • Using personal cell phones
  • Required uniforms
  • Safety equipment
  • Tools
  • Mileage
  • Equipment like laptops, tablets, etc.
  • Home office expenses

Workplace classification protections

Misclassification occurs when an employer classifies an employee incorrectly to deprive them of wages. For example, employers sometimes try not to classify independent contractors as employees, or they classify them as exempt when they should be non-exempt.

Contact San Diego Labor and Employment Lawyers Today

Unfortunately, even with labor and employment laws in place, some companies still violate them to prop up their bottom line. Fortunately, there are still steps toward justice if this happens to you.

Consumer and Employment Law Group in San Diego is no stranger to big corporations’ tricks. We have years of experience fighting for workers and proving to corporations that people are more important than any dollar amount.

If you believe our labor and employment rights have been violated, contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.